Spring Training is set to begin, and what MLB can do to make the sport as engaging as football
Mets pitchers and catchers report to Port St. Lucie today, with the first official workout slated for Wednesday
What’s Up with the Mets? 🍎
Yes a football game took place but the Mets were the true standouts during the Big Game (NY Post)
Steve Cohen’s money got the Mets airtime twice during the Super Bowl (Newsday)
David Peterson is already in Port St. Lucie and eager to prove he belongs in the rotation (SNY)
Spring training is just around the corner but there is a different feeling to the team this year from last spring (NY Post)
Congratulations to Max and Erica Scherzer who welcomed a new baby girl to the family (Twitter)
Pitchers and catchers report to Port St. Lucie today! 2 days until workouts begin! ⚾️🌴
With a little work, baseball can be as engaging as football… ✍🏻
With the Super Bowl over, baseball fans can now transition to baseball season which is just on the horizon. In fact, Mets pitchers and catchers officially report to Port St. Lucie today, and their first official workout is on Wednesday morning at Clover Park.
The Mets stole some of the spotlight with a fun ad that ran during the game and with their connections to Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (his dad pitched for the Mets once upon a yesteryear) and with the play-by-play from Kevin Burkhardt. The Super Bowl itself has grown to mean something beyond a game with millions spent on ads, tickets sold for outrageous prices, and millions across the world tuning in, football fan or otherwise.
It’s become an international spectacle like none other in sports.
With the Mets and Steve Cohen dipping their toes into the spectacle, the disparity is stark between the NFL and MLB when it comes to their championship games. The 2022 World Series drew in its second-lowest audience with just 12 million viewers tuning in. It is too soon to get the ratings for this year’s Super Bowl but in 2022 over 99 million watched the Rams defeat the Bengals to become champions.
Obviously, baseball can’t compete with the drama of a one-game, winner-take-all championship, but why are they so far behind? October baseball offers plenty of drama and yet the casual fan doesn’t seem to want to tune in like they do for the Super Bowl.
Recently, Nolan Arenado made comments that he hopes that one day the World Baseball Classic becomes as popular as the World Cup and it was a statement that almost seemed laughable because of just how far behind baseball is to other sports.
The question is, why?
Like soccer, baseball is a global sport but also has deep American roots, like football. There has been much hand-wringing over pace of play and analytics “ruining” the game, or where younger fans get bored and lose interest, but that seems to be taking the easy way out. Nobody has put in the work of marketing stars for a casual audience, or making the game interesting and engaging enough to catch the eye of the short attention span fan, regardless of age.
On national televised games, broadcasters coast-to-coast regularly complain about how the game has evolved strategically, scientifically, and in countless other ways. In addition, blackouts, streaming, and slashing the minor leagues have greatly curtailed access to the game, and any sort of fun on the field is generally frowned upon (looking at you Keith Hernandez).
Right or wrong, the game is certainly slower, less entertaining, and therefore less interesting to the short-attention spanned world we live in today.
A simple video of Edwin Díaz doing what he always does - which is enter the game with a lead in the last inning - garnered over 10 million views on the internet. He didn’t do anything different that day, he just made his normal entrance into the game to close it out, but how it was packaged, marketed and steered to the fan base made all the difference in the world. That led to Timmy Trumpet making an appearance at Citi Field for another viral moment and now you can’t tune into any sporting event without hearing the opening notes of Narco to get the crowd into it. It’s been played at hockey arenas and during college football games all thanks to Díaz coming in to close out a win against the Braves on a sunny August afternoon, and thanks especially to John Demarsico for having an eye for the entertainment aspect of the sport.
Marketing and putting the sport’s best players on a pedestal day in and day out is the way. Just look at the NFL (Mahomes, Tom Brady, Jalen Hurts, Dad Prescott, etc.) and the NBA (LeBron James, Stephen Curry, etc) and how they routinely connect their best players to the paying customer, regardless of geographic location.
Like, why is it people out east have barely seen Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout play baseball?
To his credit, Steve Cohen seems to understand that as well as anyone in the sport and is willing to invest into that side of the game for the Mets. Last night’s commercial is one example of that, but he’s also investing in modernizing an already modernized Citi Field. The scoreboard is expanding for this season and there will be a new club out in right field. The team takes the field with smoke machines making their entrance more dramatic next to the dugout which is not unlike how NFL teams take the field before their games.
Before messing with the game that people have loved for over a century (perhaps even sooner with a young Alexander Hamilton getting involved if a recent discovery is to be believed), Major League Baseball should simply try adding some fun into the game. The Díaz tweet proves the viewership is there, but the packaging could make all the difference.
Hot Stove 🔥
Derek Jeter will be joining the Fox booth this season reuniting him with Alex Rodriguez (ESPN)
The Marlins sent LHP A.J. Puk to the Athletics in exchange for OF JJ Bleday (ESPN)
The Dodgers have reportedly signed reliever Alex Reyes to a one-year deal (MLB.com)
LHP Andrew Chafin is heading to Arizona after opting out of his deal with the Tigers (MLB.com)